The tool will help clients to determine whether a document is protected by English law legal privilege rules.
Privilege entitles a party to withhold evidence from production to a third party or the court if it involves confidential communication with their lawyer seeking advice (legal advice privilege) or in connection with litigation (litigation privilege).
Privilege Plus asks a series of questions and, based on the answers, indicates whether a document is likely to be privileged or not. It looks at four scenarios – at the point of creation, post-creation, whether a document can be shared, and (as an additional category) when without prejudice privilege applies.
Partner Tom Cummins said the tool will help those within client organisations, either in a legal or commercial capacity, obtain a steer in relation to these routine requests. “Questions of privilege are hugely important, and often arise whenever documents are prepared or shared. For all involved, the Privilege Plus tool hopefully will make it easier to navigate this area of the law,” Cummins said.
Privilege is a complex area but this graphic from Farrer & Co shows why it lends itself to decision tree technology:
Ashurst partner Lynn Dunne said: “Professional privilege is an ongoing challenge for our clients, with firms often receiving hundreds of queries a year. Technology and digitalisation are changing the way we deliver legal advice, and tools such as Privilege Plus provide a practical solution to an everyday question in a straightforward, cost-effective and accessible way.”
Another firm that recently launched a privilege app is Herbert Smith Freehills. HSF in that instance worked with Neota Logic on an app which also guides users through a short series of questions, using the answers to analyse whether a document is likely to be covered by legal advice privilege and/or litigation privilege under English law. An on-screen report then provides a summary of the answers given and the likely privilege status of the document.